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The meaning and origin of the expression: Just in time

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Just in time

Meaning

A manufacturing/delivery process where a minimum of goods are kept in stock. Items are planned to arrive precisely at the time they are required for use or despatch.

Origin

Just In Time, or JIT, was coined to name and describe a manufacturing processes developed by Toyota in Japan in the 1950s and which spread to the US and UK in the 1970s. Nevertheless, the credit for the initiative should go to Henry Ford. He described essentially the same process, although it wasn't then named, in his autobiography My Life and Work, 1922:

"We have found in buying materials that it is not worth while to buy for other than immediate needs. We buy only enough to fit into the plan of production, taking into consideration the state of transportation at the time. If transportation were perfect and an even flow of materials could be assured, it would not be necessary to carry any stock whatsoever. The carloads of raw materials would arrive on schedule and in the planned order and amounts, and go from the railway cars into production. That would save a great deal of money, for it would give a very rapid turnover and thus decrease the amount of money tied up in materials."